Thursday, October 20, 2016

Guest Blogger: Race Reports by Rene Seigrist

Are you ready to be inspired! :)  

When I was #rebuildingthecar and working on getting stronger, I decided to run Run for the Red as a check in marathon to see how I felt. At mile 5, I met this wonderful person with an amazing attitude. She was running her second marathon. We worked the course together for many miles, talking about running, life, struggles, and goals. At the end of the race, right there on the track, Rene found me, gave me a huge hug and said she wanted to work with me for her next race.  

I am so thrilled that she followed through with her plan. I knew she had tremendous potential. She is a fighter, but most importantly she is open to collaborating as well as accepting guidance about matters I felt were going to be game changers for her. As we worked together, I could see her growing week-after-week. Rene was one of the reasons I wanted to run the Steamtown Marathon.  I wanted to be at the race where I knew Rene was going to shine!

Here is Rene's story!  


Two Races, One Runner, One Coach, One Goal

I did it! I freaking did it! I qualified for Boston! But before I talk about how I did that, let's rewind a bit so you can understand the back story and why this day became so incredibly important. I ran my first marathon in November of 2015, Philly Rock & Roll, after coming off of an injury induced by sub-par coaching. This injury left me feeling bitter and raw towards what was becoming my sport. This marathon was HUGE! A milestone if you will. The beginning of getting back to my sport. All I wanted to do was run and I finally made it to my first marathon. I finished with a time of 3:47. I beat my 4 hour time goal and even had a negative split. Many first time marathon runners say, "I'm never doing that again". Not this woman. No, I wanted to run my next. I found a spring marathon, Run for the Red and this is where the story begins.

I set out simply to beat my first marathon time. That's all I wanted to do. I trained decently for months along with my running partner. The month of May came and I found myself in a high stress situation. I sighed and cried more times that I can count during the month of May. But, I made it to the starting line. I ran without huge expectations as I'm fully aware that stress can do one of two things, make a run go incredibly well or make a run end in disaster. I found myself running next to another female. We engaged in typical runner conversation, our running back stories and our careers. She learned that I'm a personal trainer/nutritionist by trade and I learned she's a badass running coach with a resume that I could only dream of! We ran together for quite some time, even sharing our more personal side. I even found myself being coached by her as she saw me gassing out and offered me a gel. We ended up getting separated in the later part of the race. I crossed the finish line beating my previous time by quite a bit. My new PR was 3:36, so close to a BQ! Qualifying time for my age group is 3:35. I found the woman I was speaking with during the race, learned her name and decided to contact her thinking maybe I have the potential to qualify for Boston (which was not a goal before). Her name is Shannon McGinn Dos Santos. My faith is incredibly strong so I knew God placed her at the right spot at the right time for a specific reason. I needed a coach and a mentor.

Rene at the start of Philly RNR Half
Onto a new outlook and a new start on training. I'm excited and nervous. I work in the fitness industry so I want to do well. I want to do well for me, my coach, my family and my clients. Do I have something to prove, hell yes I do! 

Here we go! My runs began and boy were the runs intimidating. I completed each training run with pride, reporting to my coach. I was her problem child in the beginning. I crave speed so I ran my easy runs too fast...Yes, I paid for that later. 

As my training runs got more and more difficult, I looked forward to my easy runs. I eagerly looked forward to each and every training run. 

Over time, Shannon and I picked my races and strategized. We decided on Philly Rock & Roll Half Marathon, September 2016, as my check in race. How does my speed feel? How is my fueling formula working? Do my kicks feel good? Again, a check in race...however, a new half PR wouldn't hurt. Wink wink. Onto the marathon...Steamtown, October 2016.

PHILLY ROCK & ROLL, September 18th, 2016. I have never been more nervous for a race...EVER. I've been nervous. I always get nervous no matter the distance. But this nervousness took the cake! I spoke with Shannon that morning via email and we spoke over the phone in the week prior. She reassured me that I'm trained. I've done the work. I walked from my hotel to the start line with my manpanion, still nervous. It was friggin hot and humid that morning. What the heck??? This had to be one of the most miserable mornings to run a race. People were sweating at the start line and we hadn't even moved yet. Here I am at the start feeling like a caged race horse. 

This is it...go hard or die trying. I decided to not let the heat get in the way of MY PR, MY RACE, MY CONFIDENCE BUILDER. I lovingly refer to this race as such, my confidence builder, which was why this race made me so nervous. I knew this race would make or break my confidence for Steamtown. 

The gun goes off and I begin running. My pace is to be sub 740. I hung back for the first mile as I have a tendency to crave speed. I wanted to leave some fuel in the tank just in case the heat got to me later. Mile one done and I felt good. I thought, ok, let's speed it up now. My second mile was my fastest, sub 7 with mile 3 being a low 7 and I knew I needed to slow that down so I settled in and found my pace. 

My confidence began to rise as I ran. The confidence kept hold until roughly mile 8. Oh the heat. Mile 8 and 9 were my slowest miles, over 740. What the hell? I stifled this feeling and pushed. I pace got faster, back to the mid 7's. I needed this race, this PR. Mile 10 hits. I look down at my watch and realize that I'm good. If I hold pace or slow a little bit, I will still achieve my PR. 

Finish line...YES! I beat my previous PR!!! My old PR was 1:41 and it's now 1:38:35 with an average pace of 7:27! I did it and I did it on a day when a PR seems unachievable considering the heat and humidity. 

Not only did I build my confidence when it comes to speed, I built my mental and physical strength confidence...meaning my heart and my guts. Believe me, I felt like I wanted to puke, but I didn't care. The heat and humidity rattled many runners that day. I was proud of myself for hanging on!

COACH...I DID IT! I got my new PR!!! To make a long story short, Shannon was extremely proud...but the response that made me feel the best was "how do you feel about shooting for a 325-327 at Steamtown?" Holy marathon goal was 330. Can I pull off a 325-327? Shannon said yes and she would not say yes unless she knows I can do it. My response? Let's go for it! I trained some more over the next 4 weeks, enjoying taper mode and communicating more with Shannon.


Steamtown, October 9th, 2016. I wake up...hmmm I'm going for a run today. I was excited, but not nervous...AT ALL. Is this odd or normal? I don't know, but I'll take it. Lets rewind a bit to packet pickup. I saw Shannon. It was so comedic. Shannon didn't hear what I said to my manpanion moments before seeing her. In my I've spotted a celebrity voice, "THERE'S SHANNON! I NEED TO HUG HER!" I knew her hug would help to subside any left over fears. 

Rene and me - Pre-Steamtown
Apparently, it worked. I enjoyed my evening and my dinner and woke up with nothing...again, no nervous jitters, just excitement. I had my breakfast which included oatmeal with peanut butter, my Powerade and a quick shot of coffee. I dress, write my notes on my left forearm which include the difficult mile points and Isaiah 40:31, which has now become my mantra. I encourage everyone to look this up. 

I head out of the hotel to board a bus to the start line. Once I'm there, I have my apple which has become a pre-race staple and begin warming up my muscles a bit. This includes a few pee stops. While enjoying a warm up, I realize that the race begins 30 minutes later than I thought! Oh jeez. Thank God I packed two extra gels!!! This is good though. It gives me time to call my grandfather, my Peeper, to have him read my favorite bible verse to me. He's such a prayer warrior and his voice is strong yet calming. I call my manpanion to fill him in on my air headedness so he (or my parents who are on phone stand by) doesn't worry when I finish 30 minutes later than anticipated. 

I also find Shannon! I get to catch a hug, a few words of encouragement and a pre race photo with her. Then off I go!!! Another warm up and start line ahoy! I take a gel (thank God for extra)! Kaboom! It's a friggin cannon start. It's good I was pre-warned by the awesome woman I sat with on the bus ride to the start line. My pacing needs to be 7:42 for the 1st half of the race. If I keep this pace and complete the first half around a 1:41, I can settle down into an 8:05 pace for the 2nd half of the race. 

What a kick!!! 
The first mile was slower than I would've liked. The pack of runners had me boxed in a bit. Lesson learned...go to the front. This mile was sub-8 at 7:53." Let's speed it up now," I said to myself. I finished the first half of the race with 1 mile (mile 1) at a 7:50 pace, 3 other miles at a 7:40 and the the 7:30's! Holy crap! I felt good! So good that I'm had a conversation with a young, first time marathoner (who I ended up handing one of my extra gels b/c he didn't have enough fuel, pay it forward). 

Do I cut back a bit now that the first half is done? Coach said 8:05 for the second half of the race and any mile faster than 8:05 is a bonus. I rolled with that discussion and decided to keep my pace as long as I could. I can't believe what I'm seeing! Sub-7:40's! Sub-7:30's! Every time a mile or a hill got difficult, I said the verse that was written on my arm out loud and kept moving. Mile 15, 18 and 20 were in the 7:20's with my fastest mile being 7:22! I couldn't help but feel proud and it showed in my posture as I attacked the hills. I ran one mile, mile 24 which has the longest hill in the race, over 8 minutes (8:04).

Admittedly, the hill within mile 26 is the meanest hill I've ever experienced. It's at the very very end! What the heck?! I kept it together and I RAN once I reached the top of that hill! I sprinted the last .2 like it was my job! My running race photo is during this sprint. I see the finish and run through it with tears in my eyes. 

I click off my watch...3:20:50 with an average pace of 7:38! What?! OMG! I walk through the cattle shoot of volunteer sweaty racer catchers...I didn't fall but one helped to steady me. I see Shannon! She was waiting for me at the end! We celebrate, hug and I cry. This moment was HUGE for me! A BQ! A HUGE BQ! I did it!!! We did it!!! The celebration continued with my manpanion and friends who were at the race. A family celebration was shared later.

I couldn't believe what I had done. A goal that I never knew I could achieve has now been reached. I will get to run Boston in 2018!!! I knew running was my sport, but now I know that I am in fact A RUNNER.

- Rene Seigrist


  1. Rene - well done. I have been injured this year and just rounding back into form and reading your results are inspirational.